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Summer Book Award: Favorite General Fiction

Brad and I picked different books for our Favorite General Fiction. Brad will have his review up tomorrow.
My selection for Favorite General Fiction for 2011 is:

What They Always Tell Us
by Martin Wilson
In the interest of being totally upfront, the author and I exchanged a few emails months ago after I first read his book. If the tone of his emails accurately reflect the author's personality, he seems like a really nice and decent human being. He also had no idea I was going to be reviewing his book, so he didn't in any way try to influence what I might say.

I've been reading a lot of fast-paced novels that are more adventure-oriented, so this was a totally refreshing change of pace. This is a very character-based story and, because of that, moves at a slower, and I might add, more graceful pace than a lot of books out there right now.

Without giving away the storyline, the story goes back and forth between two teenage brothers over the course of a year and the change that comes over them during that time.

Being gay myself, I found myself wanting more of Alex's chapters (he's the brother who is coming to terms with being gay) and less of James' which I know is very selfish. I think this is because I identified with him more. The romance in his part (with Nathan, another student in his school) was written in a way that you could use your total imagination to fill in what the author only hinted at. It was so very sweet watching Alex fall in love with this hot guy in school, and watching how they gradually and subtly fell in love.

The author spends a lot of time making his characters fully three-dimensional and he did a great job of conveying a lot of emotions subtly. Like I said before, it's a slow-paced quiet book and it's one that I found myself dying to get back to in between intervals of reading.

Two characters that are a constant in the story are a young boy named Henry and his mysterious mother who live across the street. There's a whole sub-plot mystery going on with them which was fun to read. The young boy was a great inclusion into the book because he befriended both of the brothers and helped them change over the year. I don't know, I just really liked his character -- very smart and perceptive.

Overall, a wonderful coming-of-age story as well as a story about identity and the struggle at that age to find your place in your family and the world at large. Rumor has it that Wilson has a second book coming out this year or next. I'll definitely snap it up quickly.

We'd now like to hear from you about your favorite general fiction book. It doesn't have to have a gay-theme necessarily, but it would be nice if it did. Maybe you could even write a short summary of why you picked it as your favorite general fiction book.
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